The ongoing conflict in Ukraine, instigated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, continues to expose weakness among Western nations and their willingness to intervene in one of the boldest, most aggressive moves made by the Kremlin in decades. The rolling of Russian tanks across Ukraine serves as a stark image of Western failure in foreign policy and swift international crisis response.
As Russia continues to ravage the country of Ukraine and destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union also continue a seemingly futile debate on providing direct military support to Ukraine for fear of starting what some have called, “World War III.”
On Saturday, March 5, in a tone of absolute necessity, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy directly appealed to the United States Congress via Zoom. The meeting came with multiple requests of immediate aid, the main requests being further sanctions be imposed upon Russia, specifically Russian oil, and the establishment of a no-fly zone maintained by strict NATO forces to prevent Russian air superiority over Ukrainian skies.
While many Western nations, including the United States, have supported further economic sanctions on Russia, many have voiced concern over the establishment of a NATO-controlled no-fly zone over Ukraine.
On March 4, a Global News video clip broadcasted NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg’s response to the creation of a no-fly zone. Stoltenberg said while many Western countries have called upon President Putin to end the war in Ukraine, there is still a “responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine.” Stoltenberg goes on to insist that the only way to “implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO planes, fighter planes, into Ukrainian airspace – and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes.”
NATO’s policy of taking no action seems to prolong the war and Ukrainian suffering. Fear of starting another world war in Europe is extremely present among Western nations, and rightfully so, but it could be inferred that the West’s fear of war is the primary motivator for the progression of pain and destruction as well as the allowance of Putin’s tyrannical trek across Eastern Europe.
With the lack of NATO movement causing around a million Ukrainian refugees to flee to Poland, many are left to wonder whether or not Russia will be victorious in the war, as echoes of failed Western deterrence causing the invasion are being brought to the forefront of the situation.
The Biden administration’s foreign policy has been under heavy scrutiny since Aug. 30, 2021, when the U.S. Armed Forces completed their chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Serving as something of equal disorganization and inability, the administration’s decision to only propose sanctions on Russia once Putin had officially invaded Ukraine sounds similar to the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal; surprise takes precedence over strength once again.
President Joe Biden has been questioned both on his preparation and fortitude in response to Putin’s invasion, mainly since the image of U.S. strength paired with proper military pressure and other preemptive measures serves as a primary deterrent to bold nations with even bolder tyrannical intent. Unfortunately, the Biden administration cannot fully claim they adhered to this commonly known standard. The war in Ukraine has exposed the current weakness of the United States purely based on the notion that Biden did what many have done before him: fall victim to the belief Moscow would serve other’s interest rather than its own.
If there are two things that Americans, Europeans and other Westerners alike can hope to expect from this conflict, it is transparency and efficiency. Since the Russia-Ukraine war has exposed weakness in the West, it is up to the Western nations themselves to fix the sources of this weakness in order to defend Western ideals of freedom, peace, democracy and justice, not only for Ukraine, but for the rest of the world as well.